Re: take a look
Ah, but what's stopping the Americans from putting up a fake X37B to have a look-see at this new Russian toy?
Small inflatable microsatellite with camera perhaps?
4160 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009
Ah, but what's stopping the Americans from putting up a fake X37B to have a look-see at this new Russian toy?
Small inflatable microsatellite with camera perhaps?
Have you tried doing the environmental impact assesment for hollowing out a volcano?
I tend to find that after I've shot a few people with sandals and clipboards, the environmental impact statements say exactly what I want them to...
Spying on it is boring. Why not send up a bigger satellite that can drive up behind it, swallow it whole, then bring it back down to earth for examination?
Stealth paint isn't magic. It's the shape that makes stealth planes hard for radar to detect. Not having any large flat surfaces for the radar to give a simple return off, but to be all angular, so it reflects off in different directions. That's going to make solar panels particularly problematic, as they have to be folded for launching, and then unfold into exactly the large, flat surfaces you're trying to avoid. I guess that's where you consider using a nice RTG power source instead. I'm sure the Russians have got the odd spare bit of plutonium lying about they could use.
Another problem is moving around. If you fire your thrusters, you're easier to spot. Although I guess that depends on whether you're expecting to move far or not.
.I think it's a WiFi biscuit tin that Tweets a reminder when you're about to run out of chocolate bourbons.
When you run out of bourbons it then plays the Hallelujah Chorus. It also tracks down the credit card and store that were used to purchase them, so that it can find out who bought horrible, cardboard, fake-chocolate tasting, yucky bourbons, and despatches a Reaper drone to their current location, so they can be terminated with extreme prejudice. Then orders you some decent biscuits.
I'm aware that I may have upset the bourbon taliban with my post. But I can take them on! I will not be silenced! Chocolate Covered Gingers FOR EVVVEEEERRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!
One of my favourite post-pub delicacies is the fish finger sandwich. However I don't know if this is too simple for this. On the other hand, at least it's easy to cook when alcoholically advantaged.
They seem to be much nicer fried, but in the oven is less effort. And then it's just the choice of condiment. Ketchup, salad cream, tartare sauce perhaps?
Another, even easier, post-pub snack is cheese and biscuits. So long as you have large doses of port available, all other ingredients are optional. but I usually have nice cheese, savoury biscuits and fruit to hand. Did I mention the port?
I'm either unimaginative or lazy, I'm afraid.
My brother makes them, although I believe his recipe involves bacon, then places in an insulated thingy. Apparently they're still warm and make the perfect breakfast after an hour's journey to Lords for a day of cricket and drinking with his mates.
He also claims they're much better warm.
This is one of their cricket watching traditions, along with ludicrously huge picnics, and finding a way to sneak giant gin and tonics into the ground.
Next those evil Canadians will want to muscle in on the Eurovision Song Contest...
Whereas my rival ISP, with out 5,432 complaints in the last 90 days will run a big banner advert saying, "The ISP with the service so good they won't let you know about it".
But... But... But... BT sent me an email the other day, saying their Home Hub had the best range of any WiFi router. And BT wouldn't lie to me. No! I won't believe it! BT are my friends. They send me emails and everything.
Next you be telling me that anti-ageing creams don't work. And they've been tested by the British Skin Foundation and everything!
I couldn't be arsed. I know there's noscript, ghostery, adblock and all the rest. I installed a couple of them a few years ago. There was too much faffing around. You have to whitelist sites you want to get ads from, and sites where you want cookies (to show which articles you've already read), and I seem to remember you could download various whitelists and blacklists. So I played around with it all for half an hour, and ran it for a few days, and decided it was more effort than I could be bothered with.
A periodic cleanout of cookies, care about what sites I go to, and the fact that I use several different computers and devices every day, and log onto different services on each, keeps my data trail a bit messed up. In the end I decided it's more trouble than it's worth to do more.
I do run Flash Block sometimes, as that's nice and simple, and easy to allow stuff, as you just click on it.
If I used Facebook regularly, which I don't, I'd accept their ads. As that's the funding model these sites use, and it's my rule to cooperate, unless there's a reason not to.
Anyway I have ad-blocking software built into my brain. I don't notice them unless I choose to. Or obviously some annoying mis-behaving one zooms in to take over the screen or blares out loud noises.
NatWest are still pretty good. The last email I got about one of my accounts had a button on it, which took you to info about some changes they're making, but it was on a natwest.com domain - and didn't have any links to log into you account.
However Facebook have an interesting idea of security. I don't use it very often, and I always log out. So they've started quite heavily spamming me with emails, presumably in order to get me to use the damned site, and view lots of crappy adverts. I have relatives who post a lot, so there's always something to link to in an email. I know these aren't phishing because they have partial messages from people I know - and the links lead to FB. But when I click on the button, it logs me in to Facebook. Oddly if I then log out, and click on another mail (they often seem to send two or three at once) that time, I'm taken to the proper log in page. That is some particularly pisspoor security from Facebook.
I keep meaning to go and change my email preferences to none. But I probably log-in unprompted about once every 6 weeks.
I don't know why Facebook bother though. The quality of the ads they show me is shocking. It's spam and scam stuff. I know I've filled in virtually no personal info, but they can surely do better than ads for foreign brides, dodgy looking dating sites and 'competitions' to win free iPads/iPhones. I'm amazed any legitimate companies advertise with them. Occasionally I'll see a mainstream retailer - but it's mostly the sort of stuff you see on banner ads in the dodgier areas of the internet. I guess at least I've never seen an ad on FB for one of those "you have a virus use our free online scanners", so at least they have some standards and haven't completely plumbed the depths yet. That'll be for next year...
As I understand it, their prediction was that there was no more risk of an eathquake than normal. Despite the fact that there had been some recent tremors. In an area where there are always tremors.
So if you live in an earhquake zone, that's the risk you accept. If you don't like it, either move, or live in a nice soft tent, where you don't care if it falls on you. Those are the choices. Or to stay in your homes, schools and offices, and live your life as normal. Accepting the extra risk every day.
When we have a method of predicting earthquakes, we can revisit this.
Perhaps it's a cunning ploy? It's a plan to improve the breeding stock of the human race, by removing a whole pointless layer of useless global bureaucrats (B Ark style).
First create a completely insane committee. Then get some of the most useless chair-sitters on God's green Earth appointed. Then sit them on their chairs. Now tie giant anchors to them, chuck the anchors in the deepest part of the ocean, and watch them slide away to the bottom of the deeps.
It's either that or ICANN have made so much money from selling gTLDs, that their bank account is full. Perhaps it's run out of noughts? Anyway, they've all given themselves pay rises, and massive bonuses. But now their bank accounts are full. The cash is still pouring in, so they need to find a way to get rid of more of it, sharpish...
One solution to this might be some judicious bribery.
If the whole nation is going to benefit from having HS2, a new motorway, a new nuclear plant or whatever, then we probably need to simplify planning requirements. Remember the enquiry into Heathrow Terminal 5? This took ten years. There were no extra flights, because no extra runway, and they're already at 98% runway capacity. So all they were doing was putting up a building in the middle of a restricted site that no-one's allowed to go to, except under strict controls. It should have gone through on the nod. Obviously a new runway should take a long time.
Perhaps the solution is to bribe the locals? Since everyone's benefitting, but only a small number of locals are suffering (annoyance, drop in house prices, whatever) - we could give them some cash or some local amenities. That way the burden gets shared.
Personally I'd like to tell them to stop being stupid NIMBY arseholes. But we do live in a democracy, so we should make legitimate attempts to please minorities, before looking at out-voting them. And I do live under 100 yards from a train line that's being upgraded.
The new one is BANANAs: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.
Ah but you haven't known pleasure, until you've had it caught in a blade, lifted up, and stretched to a thousand feet long...
And so the camera pans across the magnificent hills, to the verdant, moist and welcoming valleys. The dappled sunlight of a warm afternoon giving everything a beautiful golden glow.
The dancing sunlight shimmers on the water. But as the camera pans back we can see that it's not water, but glass. In fact the window of a 2005 Ford Escort. And we see homo automobilus canus in his natural habitat, half naked, lying across the bonnet, in an Essex carpark, staring through the windows at what goes on inside.
And that was when the BBC's latest documentary 'The Dogging World' was cancelled.
Are you suggesting a "Prince Albert cam"?
Amazon do love the spam. I'm perfectly happy to take special offers from companies I use a lot. I don't mind a glance at their email, if it's interesting I save for later, or delete if not.
But one day I had 3 different emails from Amazon, and it had got to the point where I was getting more than 10 a week. This didn't make me buy more, it made me hit unsubscribe.
The stupid thing is, they have a good chunk of my purchase history. Some of their stuff seemed well targeted, and so I bought things on special offer I otherwise wouldn't have. But some of the rest of it was horribly badly targeted, and as well as all the attempts at targeted ads, they'd also do general ones for any-old-thing. You'd have thought even marketing could work out that you can have too much of a good thing...
The weird thing is, this is exactly what Amazon did with books.
They launched the Kindle, but there was a Kindle app available on every other device they could manage. They supported Blackberry and Win Phone too. So you could get your books from one program, whether on PC, tablet or phone. And of course were able to buy from Amazon's store, right from the app. Or buy in browser, and have it magically turn up on the phone.
Isn't that how they also operate with music? I buy many of my CDs from Amazon, and because I haven't got round to ripping the latest (due laziness in replacing a dead PC), I stuck the Amazon Cloud Player on the iPad.
I really don't understand why they aren't doing this with video. I've just got a Chromecast and assumed it would work with Amazon, as it does with Netflix. I didn't buy it for that, but it was in the back of my mind, if I felt like a few months of gorging on films.
My 50" telly cost £500 a couple of years ago. Panasonic. Dumb as a brick. The Panasonic smarties, with as far as I can tell the same panels, were about £800.
That £300 difference would buy me a Playstation to use as Bluray and set-top box. Or a cheap PC to do the same. Although when I tried my friend's PS3 the user interface was appalling, with the smallest text imagineable and horrifically complicated menu structure. It would have driven me round the bend. Has that improved? Or is the XBox better?
Anyway I got Sky for a year on a cheap deal, and the Sky+ Box isn't bad. It's easy to use, and although you can't stream iPlayer live, you can download a show, and start watching after a few minutes.
That's now over, and I've just spent £30 on a Chromecast. Which to my surprise is rather good. All I really want is NFL online games and BBC iPlayer though.
So for that £300 difference I've effectively had a year of free Sky sport and a Chromecast, and I've still got change for a decent meal out. Or a new Chromecast (other thing) in 3 years, when the smart bits of the smart TV are out of date, but the panel still works so you can't replace it.
Finally, is the Samsung easy to use? I've yet to see a TV menu system, that was anything other than an ugly, confusing mess.
Actually that's not quite fair. The menu on my Panasonic is horrible. But the Freeview EPG is actually very well laid out.
He's already done at least 4 years, in the last commission. As Energy commissioner. So his pension is sorted.
However, he can be fired. The one person who can do that is the President of the Commission. That's the guy who just had the idea of having these Vice Presidents, that Oettinger's just slagged off. Not the brightest move perhaps.
The European Parliament still can't sack individual commissioners. And neither can the national governments. Although the Parliament can sack the whole Commission. As they were going to do a few years ago, before the Santer Commission got their dibs in first, and resigned.
Not quite. Most of the policies have to go through the Council of the European Union, i.e. the college for the national gouvernments.
True. But what I meant was that no commissioner is totally in charge of his department. Obviously they have some administrative control. But any major proposals have to be voted on by all the commissioners. In a sort-of equivalent of a cabinet government. Remember that only the Commission can propose legislation.
Their legislation is then negotiated on by the Council and the Parliament. But he who drafts the document has control. Unless he's such a fool that he can't draft documents because he's annoyed the Commission President and Vice Presidents...
As the article says, Oettinger was apparently very miffed that he got the job he did. And let everyone know it. I'm not quite sure why the Germans didn't get a better job for their commish, but I suspect it's because Merkel was more interested in making sure there were hawks in all but one of the places that control Euro policy. She got lumbered with the French Moscovici at monetary affairs, but he's also being supervised by one of the vice presidents.
Also as part of the European Parliament power grab that got Juncker the President's job, they were also trying to force the losing Spitzenkandidate Martin Schultz on her. As the German commissioner. And he's from t'other party. The Germans, like us, rarely seem to send top-rank politicians to Brussels.
Still Oettinger is an idiot. The whole idea of giving the big portfolios to the big countries is sort of inevitable. Given that they've got the political clout. But Juncker is from one of the small states, so his idea was to give the smaller states some power back, by putting them in as co-ordinating Vice Presidents. Who knows if it'll work. But the Commission is just like any cabinet government. You're the minister (equivalent), but all policies go to the full College of Commissioners, and as I understand it go through on majority vote. So you can write all the policy papers you like, and brook no interference. It'll do you no good if you keep getting outvoted for being an arsehole. And if you piss off the Commission President for saying his big idea was stupid.
There used to be a Tourist Information Centre in High Wycombe. And the signs in the windows didn't just say, "Flee!".
That police notice they put out beforehand (quoted in the article), was well-written, in human language and made sense. What's wrong with the wrold!
Maybe have a look at the HTC One Mini? It's got a 4.5" screen, but it seems to be longer and thinner like the iPhone 5, so shouldn't be too hideously enormous.
Actually I didn't think the Moto G was all that large. Again a 4.5" screen. But I do have quite big hands.
I now find my work iPhone 5 screen to be a bit small. Despite having been a fan of smaller smartphones in the past. My favourite size/ergonomics/feel was the HTC Desire and (smaller) Wildfire.
I'm torn between a Galaxy Note of some description or going back to Windows Phone. I'm not willing to shell out much more than £200.
Windows phones manage business contacts far better than stock Android. The People Hub is excellent. I admit there's likely to be an Android app that's as good, but I've not found it.
There'll be fewer apps, but then if you're going with Exchange Active Sync (or even Office 365) and Office anyway, the most common business tools - all of the 4 main phone players will do the job.
I admit that even as a fan of Windows Phone, if I were forced to do my work from a phone, it would almost certainly be a Samsung Galaxy Note. Because although I prefer Win Pho to iOS and Android, I'm perfectly happy with all 3, and having a stylus would be the best compromise for text input.
When is he going to merge Tesla and SpaceX? I want a battery powered rocket.
The only question is, do you charge up the L-ion batteries and have an electric plasma drive, or just overcharge them, and watch the thing explode into the air instead?
What was it Boeing called it? "Venting with flame".
That brings back memories of the Groupon IPO, when they got slapped down for using non-GAAP numbers. Then sulkily said that they were right anyway. Then everything tanked after they'd sold the shares.
Or even further back during the dot.com bust shennanigans. Ah nostalgia. Do you remember when Amazon made profits? Well they were desperate to claim they did anyway. They were making growing losses on growing turnover, but had this super accounting metric which showed how if you took out the costs of everything, they were making loadsa money! I seem to remember they were even trying to amortise their stock over several years, which is an odd trick. Now it's the other way round, and they seem to be actively trying not to make profits.
The difference between a Rolex and an Apple gold-watch, is that the Rolex is designed to last for the rest of your life. Or at least a good portion of it.
That Apple bling is going to be obsolete in 2 years. Even if you keep using it, it's going to need a new battery in a few more, and those screens don't last forever.
What I want to know is, what happens to the gold case? Or are Apple going to make all their Watches the same size - so that you can just pop it out, and update to the next model?
Only 20 years? According to those Pathetique Phillipe ads you alwasy see in the Economist, you don't buy a watch for yourself, you look after it for your children. Although it doesn't say if you can break it in half to share between two...
Obviously one should really have inherited one from ones father. Surely there can't be that many loathsome prolls whose parents failed to give them the proper start in life with the inheritence of a multi-thousand pound watch. Then again, you'd really need parents considerate enough to die around your 18th birthday, as it's going to be awkward to insist your father's around to tell you the time until he dies when you're in your 60s.
You know, I'm not sure they've thought this through...
Economics does explain your breakfast. It's called price inelasticity. This suggests that even though you might value your breakfast at 1/100th of an iPhone, when you're really hungry you'd be willing to pay up to maybe 3/100ths of an iPhone in order to get it. On the other hand your marginal propensity to consume breakfasts is quite low. That first brekkie really hits the spot. Yummy! You'd pay extra just to get it. But if I offered you a second breakfast 5 minutes later, you might not even be willing to pay 1/1000th of an iPhone to get it. Unless you're very greedy.
So breakfast is price inelastic. Apparently so are iPhones. People will apparently pay whatever Apple are charging (within reason). Sadly for other manufacturers, people are much more willing to take the cheaper models. Of course this is all very well, but how the hell do you determine the price elasticity of every good, given that every consumer is different?
Externalities are a bit more complicated though. If some company has taken a new tech at a high price, and made it affordable by working out a way to make it cheaper - that's not an externality to them. They've deliberately spent cash to do the work. We may even grant them a patent to protect their IP, so that other companies can't freeload on their research.
Tech development can be an externality. However it's often deliberately funded. When the government funds something, and we all pay tax in order to get it, it's a public good instead.
but is there really such a thing as a free market, anywhere?
Allan George Dyer,
Probably not. Perfect markets, perfect knowledge and perfect consumers are strictly for economic models... Also free markets require government intervention. To stop monopolies, and require legal fair play for example. Not everyone opposes progressive taxation. Although it does depend what you mean by progressive. Can a 70% tax rate be progressive? A standard maxim is that if you tax something, you get less of it though. So if you tax income, overall there'll be less income than if you didn't. Hence taxing land being a popular idea (no-one makes that anyway).
As to mentioning command economies, I was still talking about technology. The whole point of the article was that even if there's an argument about trickle down economics (if anyone can even decide what that means), it's demonstrably true that technology often works where richer people do the early adopting that pays for everyone else to get it at commodity prices.
I decided to mention that one of the good things about having relatively free markets and allowing people to earn big rewards for taking risks is that some of those risks pay off. Even if big corporations sit on an idea, it's hard to stop an interloper coming in and disrupting them with something new. Unless they can gang-up with government to regulate their industry to stop outside competition coming in. Command economies, and governments in mixed ones, tend to get things wrong a lot. The difference is that they just ignore their failures and carry on regardless. A more open economic system gives you more chances to succeed, by trying many different things.
You've missed my point.
Then I confused things with chicken-devliery because I didn't want to suggest that every technology is appropriate everywhere.
My argument was addressing this. The point about free market capitalism, and why it beats command economies, is as much about failure as success. In command economies, the people in cahrge are risk averse. As they often become in big companies. They do the safe thing. And often that works.
But the great thing about free economies is that people can try weird stuff. They might go bust, but it's their own cash at risk, or stuff they've borrowed off investors. So different things will get tried with technologies, and some might work.
Actually I'd be happy to argue the merits of trickle down economics too. But Tim Worstall chooses to ignore that in his article, and only talk about technology. And that was your point too.
Take Twitter for example. They weren't competing with anyone before they existed. They probably pay high salaries, and don't really exploit anyone. You might argue about personal data, but it's not like they're even grabbing much of that. But lots of people get value from what they do, so they're apparently worth loadsa money. So it's very hard to argue that anyone's actually got poorer, while Twitter has created a couple of billionaires, and some millionaires. So that's growth, that's cost society very little, but given us something many people use. And made some people rich. If those people then go on a spending spree with their filthy lucre, then so much the better. The economy grows, and some poorer people get paid for providing them services.
Obviously Twitter may be over-valued, crash and burn. Then there has been a cost to society. But they're just an example I picked out of the air. There have been lots of tech companies who've created value, got some people insanely rich, and even if they only spend some of their cash, that's growing the economy for everyone.
Be careful with assuming cause and effect? How do we know that any level of inequality has an effect on technological growth? It could be that growth leads to inequality after all...
Think about all the tech billionaires. It's rapid development that makes them so wealthy. If a founder creates a company, and by the time he dies it's worth billions, he'll be well off. But not insanely so. But if you can found a company in your early 20s, then sell it for billions by the time you're 30 - that's a recipe for massive extremes of wealth.
Also remember that the poorest can't have any less wealth. You can't own less than zero houses. So there's always going to be a wealth-gap, It doesn't take that much extreme wealth at the top-end to start making large differences to this ratio. So any period of rapid technological growth not run by the government is likely to increase inequality in the short term at least.
Also remember the point that Worstall makes in other places about measuring wealth inequality. In the 19th century the poorest got almost no government help. In the twenties there was some basic provision for universal primary education and some pensions. Now everyone in Britain can rely on free healthcare, free education to 18, a basic state pension until they die, housing support, sickness and unemployment benefits, as well as a lot of financial help with child rearing. Even free tertiary education so long as you don't earn over £20k a year afterwards). That's a suite of benefits that's worth many hundreds of thousands of pounds each - and we don't all pay that much tax in our lifetimes. Missing that out from any discussion of inequality is insane.
Also remember to measure who the inequality is between. Globalisation has frozen the wages of ordinary people in the Western economies since the mid 2000s. If you include housing costs in the UK, or healthcare in the US, that's probably frozen since sometime in the 90s.
But on the other hand, Africa is getting much richer. Quite quickly now in some places. China has taken hundreds of millions of people out of extreme poverty. As has the rest of Southern Asia. A lot of that's also down to globalisation. And technological development. We're in another uncomfortable period of social and economic change, but it's not bad for everyone.
And yet how do these villagers know which market to get their goods to? By checking their mobile phones.
And how do they get hurricane/typhoon/tsunami warnings? Again from their phones (once the fripperies of braces-wearing London stockbrokers), using data from satellites (once the province of Cold Warriors).
Who the hell knows what Spaceship 2 will lead to? It's not a technology we've explored yet. Maybe the current Space industry boom will peter out again. Or maybe we'll have orbital platforms making weird crystals in micro-gravity that start another computing boom. Or give us exotic drugs to erradicate malaria. I've read in several places that one of the benefits of microgravity manufacturing may be improvements in our ability to create difficult molecules for drugs, but I'm not enough a chemist to know if that's still true (or even if it ever was).
Or indeed maybe Virgin will give up, Scaled Composites will be starved of cash, and it'll be Elon Musk who gets us into space, with his technological leap. Who'd have thought ten years ago that a guy could start from scratch and build a space capability that can already sent several tons to LEO and (probably) also land the 1st stage rocket to re-use it? In 2-3 more years he says he'll have a man-rated re-usable capsule that can land on the moon (if it could get there). He's building capabiliites at an amzing rate, and lowering costs while doing it.
Sure the government is responsible for loads of stuff. Including innovation. War (for example) is a real spur to get your thinking cap on...
But remember that in our current 'Western' economic model (since WWII), government is taxing and spending something like 40% of the economy. Varying over time and country between say 30% and 50%.
So you'd expect the government to be involved in lots of innovation. It's doing lots of stuff. Especially as peacetime military spending has been much more of a driver, due to the complication of modern weapons systems, and the fact we had a Cold War.
Railways, mass steel production, mass clothing production and mass car production all stated in the 19th Century with much less government involvement. Innovators went out and did stuff, made money and more of that stuff happened. Since then we've decided we don't want 19th Century levels of poverty, government has got much more involved in areas like science, and we've remodelled our economies.
But even where you might argue government investment has given us new technologies, you need to remember that there's more than one way to do technology. There's basic R&D to give us the shiny new frontier. Then there's boring development to get something that actually works 99.999% of the time, and doesn't blow up so often. Then there's manufacturing development to make things cheaper, so the mass market can have them. And there's cross-pollination where you take innovations in one field, and use them in another.
Very rich people, wanting to communicate mostly for business, drove a demand for mobile phones in the 80s. That's become a mass market technology that almost everyone in rich economies can afford. But because of us relatively rich (in global terms) masses buying into mobiles, they can now be had for a few quid, so even the very poorest in the developing world can afford them. So this continuing development has trickled even further down, so farmers/fishermen in remote places in Africa can now get their stuff to the right market, to get the most money, so they get richer and waste less. This has allowed and is allowing whole swathes of the developing world to leap-frog a developmental stage that we had to go through in order to get national communications. And is getting them the internet too. All of which may allow them to kickstart their economic, social and educational development in a way no plausible amount of aid money could.
Or take solar panels. In order to make them cheap enough to put on our houses, we're pushing development of this technology. Now my feeling is that this is a mistake, at least in Northern Europe. And we'd be better investing our renewables money into nuclear. But for Southern Europe or US, it could be a brilliant technology to use. Possibly both at local and grid scale. But again our relatively rich market may drive down the price to commodity levels. Then people in the poorest bits of the developing world may be able to skip the step of national power infrastructure, and go for local renewable solar electricity, and bootstrap their economies.
Designed sure. But not built. That's one crucial difference. 1960s quality control technology was worse anyway, let alone compared with Soviet-built stuff from the era.
I'd have thought that they'd have to go to so much effort to check and refurb these engines, that it would be as cheap to build them new anyway. Given I believe they have a license to do so.
Imagine if an airline flew a 747 with some engines they found in the corner of an old hangar from 40 years ago, with no proper storage paperwork. I suppose, to be fair, that this is the sort of thing people do with historical aircraft. But they only risk their own lives, fly under strict rules at airshows, and don't carry $200m of other peoples' cargo.
Are you a Vodafone fan by any chance? Don't sit on the fence, tell us what you really think...
Myself I found their coverage OK. It was the several months when they forgot our company had a shared data contract. One month our bill for 7 phones came in at £2,500!!! I think our total usage was about 1.5GB, so even at non-contract pay as you go rates, that's a crimial rip-off. Yes they did credit us. Then forgot for one week of the next month. So our bill was only £600 that time.
I don't know if they've been trying to change planning rules on mobile masts. But there's been a running bunfight within the coalition on relaxation of planning rules, which was a Conservative policy at the last election.
Part of this was because it was policy to try and get more houses built. And infrastructure like HS2. But of course you then get MPs in the effected constituencies whose survival instincts kick in.
To be fair to Cameron, he's pushed quite a few policies that he knew would piss off his own core vote, because he believed they were the right thing to do. Such as HS2, gay marriage, relaxing planning in the crowded South East. Which is something we tell politicians we want them to do. Then scream at them for.
Apparently his booky-wook was at least partially ghost written. So it's always possible that he hasn't even looked at it either. Like so many sports biographies, and I assume all those books by Jordan...
Well there would be more of an incentive for one mobile network to build in difficult to reach areas. If it was able to hoover up the calls from all the networks passing through, not just its customers. That might actually be an incentive to fill common blackspots. Although also an incentive not to fix their own black spots.
Whether this is technically feasible or not, is another matter.
Do you remember when BT were a nationalised company? I'm sure Owen Jones doesn't. But a daytime peak rate national call cost updwards of 40p a minute. That's early 80s money as well. Even local calls were about 20p a minute.
I'm not sure government infrastructure is a panacea.
Now that we are where we are, it would seem extremely silly to nationalise the existing mobile companies, as well as being horrifically expensive. So why not just use the existing system to get what we want. Either tell the companies to just do it, put up or shut up. Or pay them to.
However, don't do an Ed Miliband. Don't, as Sec State for Environment, force energy companies to charge their customers a government mandated surcharge to pay for feed-in tarrifs. Then act all shocked as Leader of the Opposition that energy prices have been shooting up, and demand price-freezes on the energy utilities.
We can either throw a few billion of taxpayers' money at this. Although we are running a huge deficit at the moment. Or we can do it as a stealth-tax, by forcing the networks to do it, and get the money off subscribers or shareholders.
Or we could ask them to allow roaming, and then let the one that bothers to have the network get paid by the others for it. If we set the price right, I'm sure one of them would build it to win extra rural customers.
Or something else I'm not clever enough to think of.
Or that's a story put about by the phone companies as a way to frame the debate as PM had bad call, so decided to act in haste.
I don't know how this idea actually came about, so don't know. I also see that it could have loads of problems. As you need to incentivise people to make the effort. But I'm sure there'd be fees for the networks to roam to each other, and you could allow mutual discounts for those that your users roam to, thus stopping Andrew O's Vampire Network from getting off the ground. Even if it was a realistic idea anyway, as roaming won't be free.
The other way to address this is to say, "you're national networkds, so just bloody do it", and price accordingly. Or have discounts off the spectrum license for those that do.
There does seem to be a bit of special pleading in here. The companies would of course say that they should be given incentives and sweeteners to do the thing that costs money.
That's fair. Taxpayers have to pay for a public good. The other alternative is compulsion, in which case subscribers will be made to pay for a public good. Either are valid options - and both are taxes in all but name. Although only one adds to the government deficit.
But then El Reg has been equally critical of the rural broadband roll-out, and the fact that so much of the cash has gone to BT. I'm pretty sure Andrew O has been one of those critics. So it seems the government can't win here.
The banks do have to pay the victims for any cocked up transactions and charges caused by the cock-up. Though nothing for not being able to get at their money for a week. But it was made clear at the time that this would happen, so it's not like people were in limbo.
Sadly I was just organising a mortgage with Natwest that week, and I get 0.2% off my interest bill for having a current account with them. So I couldn't take my custom elsewhere. But other people were free to and most didn't.
So in this case, the regulator are trying to make a point that's easy for the board to understand.
Sure we're fining the taxpayer, who owns 70% odd. The other 30% of shareholders lose their 30%.
But we're also going to sell RBS in a few years. So if they do it again, they know it's going to cost. As do the other banks. This is a nice incentive to spend a bit more on their IT. Particularly if it's made clear that the next fine will be higher.
It's very hard to prosecute people for screwing up. Especially as you have to prove who did what when. Although I do believe there should have been attempted prosecutions for what I would call deliberate fraud, such as incentivising your staff to sell shitty PPI deals - and hiding it all in the small print. But that's very hard to get criminal levels of proof on.
However this narrative about the banking crisis misses out one fundamental thing. There was punishment. The problem is it was the shareholders who copped it. The government didn't bail out the banks for fun, it did it because it was cheaper than bailing out us, the banks' customers. So they were bailed out, rather than the expense, hassle and disastrous levels of economic dislocation involved in getting our savings back to us via the deposit insurance scheme.
The shareholders got wiped out, as the government put capital in, and took shares. In theory the government may not lose very much money at all - and may even make a profit on the bank bail-outs. Eventually we're going to sell off those shares. We've already made a good chunk of the money back on Northern Rock, and there's even a good chance of turning a profit there, as the mortgages in the bad bank we kept are still being paid.
By going for bail-outs, QE and deficit spending, we balanced most of the costs of the crash across the economy. So house prices dropped, but didn't plummet. This meant most people didn't go into negative equity, which kept us paying our mortgages, and kept the banks us taxpayers now own solvent. Savers lost out due to inflation and low interest rates, but then they got their money saved for them by everyone else, whereas the debt-spiral otherwise would have seen much of their savings wiped out.
Compare this with the Eurozone, where they tried to cut their deficits faster, did some disguised QE (but unwound it too fast) and haven't bailed out their banks. That's been (and still is) a fucking disaster, that's screwed the debtors over horribly. The savers are still mostly safe, but as the debtors are now totally impoverished (including several governments), they'll stop servicing their debts, and then the savers will start losing out. That'll get the creditor states panicking, and then there'll be QE, when they see the choice between losing their badly invested savings or bailing out the rest of the Eurozone.
This decision was made by the ECJ. So it was a judical, not a political one - and should have had nothing to do with the Commission.